Sefalana Holding Company’s stock price took a huge hit on Thursday, adding to other steep drops in the stock price experienced over a period of two weeks. Shares of Sefalana have plummeted by 15.46% in the first month of the year’s trading, falling to P10.99.
The precipitous drop in the group’s stock price makes it the worst performing stock in the Botswana Stock Exchange listed companies. Combined with 5.8% losses in the previous year, the stock is under pressure from investors who are used to the stock’s good returns last seen in 2015 when it grew by almost 50%. However in recent times, Sefalana’s performance in the stock market reflects a broader trend in the Retail and Wholesaling sector of the BSE.
The sector has been under pressure due to tough trading conditions characterised by diminishing spending power, weak economic growth, retrenchments, rising unemployment and intense competition. The sector declined by 7.1% in 2016, a drastic contrast to the 4.2% growth in 2015. The losses from 2016 in the sector seem to have extended to 2017: Sechaba Breweries is down by 11.14% and Choppies has lost 0.83%.
Through the four decades of operating, Sefalana Group has grown into a large and diverse business, operating in a number of sectors including 67 stores in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sector within Botswana and Namibia. Whilst its core business is in the FMCG sector, the Group remains well diversified with a solid property portfolio in Botswana, Zambia and Namibia, 3 motor dealerships (MAN, TATA and Honda), agencies for the sale of industrial and agricultural equipment, a well-established grain mill in Serowe, providing nutritious meals for the country’s population and a UHT milk plant, which commenced operations this year. Group remains the only listed company without a controlling shareholder. The single largest shareholder is Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund at 42.85%. Citizens hold a total of 91.87% of all issued shares.
Late last year, Sefalana undertook a Rights Issue program when the board issued an additional 27,858,523 new shares thus increasing stated capital comprising of ordinary shares from 222,868,186 shares to 250,726,709 shares. The additional shares were offered to existing shareholders in a ratio of 1 Offer Share for every 8 shares held by shareholders at a price of P12.60 per offer share, representing a 10% discount to the Sefalana share price at the time.
The rights issue was able to raise P351 million. The trailblazing group said the capital will be used to finance the acquisition of the Lesotho Business (TFS), to make an investment in a South Africa Consortium, to assist with future acquisition opportunities, to fund property acquisitions relating to these Transactions, and for other working capital requirements of the Sefalana Group.
In the latest interim financial results released a week ago, Chandra Chauhan, the group Managing Director, says in the face of continued strain on the economic climate in Botswana, following the closure of a number of institutions that has led to an increase in unemployment across the country, Sefalana has had to remain competitive and weather the storm of lower consumer spending.
“Some of our business units in Botswana have generated a lower level of profitability than in the previous year as a result of increased pressure on margins as we attempt to provide our customers with the best possible price in these difficult times. Government spending in some areas has also declined and this has adversely impacted those businesses that are reliant on recurring tenders.” He added that fortunately for the group as a whole, the Namibian business has grown sufficiently to offset the decline experienced locally.
The Group’s overall profit before tax for the 6 months ended 31 October 2016 of P81.1 million was marginally up on the comparative period ended 31 October 2015 at P80.4 million. The group managed to reach the P2 billion threshold in terms of turnover for the current six month period – a long standing target for the group. The overall total comprehensive income for the period is significantly up on the comparative period at P60.1 million compared to P18.5 million at October 2015.
Other financial highlights for the 6 months to 31 October 2016, show that the group’s revenue was P2.0 billion – up 9% on prior period; Gross profit was P152 million – up 4% on prior period; Earnings before interest, tax and amortization (EBITA) was P82.2 million, up 4% on prior period; and Profit before tax was P81.1m – marginally up on the prior period.
In efforts to lure customers amid a challenging trading environment marked by job losses and tight competition, Sefalana launched an online shopping portal and loyalty rewards programme. The group says the customer loyalty scheme, Sefalana Rewards, has received tremendous response from customers as they managed to sign up 100,000 customers in a space of six weeks. The group further said that through this initiative and through the rebranding program, they have seen an increased level of loyalty and support from their customers.
“ This product allows customers to earn “Sefbacks’’ on all purchases through giving back a percentage of the purchase value to our customer in the form of points that can be redeemed for cash at any time. This also enables us to understand and monitor our customer behaviour better, and to offer them specific products and promotions that will be of interest, whilst at the same time giving something back every time they shop with us,” the company explained.
Sefalana says a year after they became the first local retailer to launch online shopping, they have enhanced their online store offering, providing a refreshed look and feel for customers, with larger product displays, easier navigation and additional methods of payment. The group is planning are to roll this out to the Francistown area during 2017.
Lucrative and highly anticipated national lottery tender that saw several Batswana businessmen partnering to form a gambling consortium to pit against their South African counterparts, culminates into a big power gamble.
WeekendPost has had a chance to watch lottery showcase even before the anticipated and impending national lottery set-up launches. A lot has been a big gamble from the bidding process which is now set for the courts next year January following a marathon legal brawl involving the interest of the gambling fraternity in Botswana and South Africa.
Households representing more than half of Botswana’s population-mostly residing in rural areas- do not know where their next meal will come from, but neither do they take into consideration the quality and/or quantity of the food they consume.
This is according to the latest Prevalence of Food Insecurity in Botswana report which was done for the 2018/19 period and represents the state of food insecurity data even to this time. The Prevalence of Food Insecurity was released by Statistics Botswana and it released results with findings that the results show that at national level 50.8 percent of the population in Botswana was affected by moderate to severe food insecurity in 2018/19, while 22.2 percent of the population was affected by severe food insecurity only.
According to the report, this translates to 27 percent of the population being food secure that is to say having adequate access to food in both quality and quantity. According to Statistician General, Burton Mguni, when explaining how the food data was compiled, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is custodian of the “Prevalence of Undernourishment (PoU)” and “Prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity in the population based on the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES)” SDG indicators, for leading FIES data analysis and the resultant capacity building.
“The FIES measures the extent of food insecurity at the household or individual level. The indicator provides internationally comparable estimates of the proportion of the population facing moderate to severe difficulties in accessing food. The FIES consists of eight brief questions regarding access to adequate food, and the questions are answered directly with a yes/no response. It (FIES) complements the existing food and nutrition security indicators such as Prevalence of Undernourishment.
According to the FIES, with increasing severity, the quantity of food consumed decreases as portion sizes are reduced and meals are skipped. At its most severe level, people are forced to go without eating for a day or more. The scale further reveals that the household’s experience of food insecurity may be characterized by uncertainty and anxiety regarding food access and compromising the quality of the diet and having a less balanced and more monotonous diet,” says Mguni.
The 50.8 percent of the population in Botswana which was affected by moderate to severe food insecurity are characterized as people experiencing moderate food insecurity and face uncertainties about their ability to obtain food. These people have been forced to compromise on the quality and/or quantity of the food they consume according to the report on food insecurity.
Those who experience severe food insecurity, the 22.2 percent of the population, are people who have typically run out of food and, at worst, gone a day (or days) without eating. According to the statistics, rural area population experienced moderate to severe food insecurity at 65 percent while urban villages were at 46.60 percent and cities/town were at 31.70 percent. Those experiencing the most extreme and severe insecurity were at rural areas making 33.10 percent while urban villages and towns were at 11.90 percent and 17.50 respectively.
According to a paper compiled by Sirak Bahta, Francis Wanyoike, Hikuepi Katjiuongua and Davis Marumo and published in December 2017, titled ‘Characterization of food security and consumption patterns among smallholder livestock farmers in Botswana,’ over 70 percent of Botswana’s population reside in rural areas, and majority (70%) relies on traditional/subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods.
The study set out to characterize the food security situation and food consumption patterns among livestock keepers in Botswana. “Despite the policy change, challenges still remain in ensuring that all persons and households have access to food at all times. For example, during an analysis of the impacts of rising international food prices for Botswana, BIDPA reported that food prices tended to be highest in the rural areas already disadvantaged by relatively low levels of income and high rates of unemployment,” said the study.
According to the paper, about 9 percent of households were found to be food insecure and this category of households included 6 percent of households that ranked poorly and 3 percent that were on the borderline according to the World Food Programme’s (WFP) definition of food security.
Media reports state that the World Bank has warned that disruption to production and supply chains could ‘spark a food security crisis’ in Africa, forecasting a fall in farm production of up to 7 percent, if there are restrictions to trade, and a 25 percent decline in food imports.
Food security in Botswana or food production was also attacked by the locust pandemic which swept out this country’s vegetation and plants. The locust is said to have contributed to 25 percent loss in production.
Global lockdown have been a thorn in diamonds having shiny sales, but a lot of optimism shows with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, the precious stones will be bought with high volumes towards festive season. The diamond market is however warned of the resurgence of Covid-19 in key markets presents ongoing risks amid the presence and optimist about the new Covid-29 vaccines.
The latest findings published as De Beers Group’s latest Diamond Insight ‘Flash’ Report, which looks at the impact of the pandemic on relationships and engagements, has revealed that in the US that more couples than ever are buying diamond engagement rings. Bridal sales is mostly the primary source of diamond jewellery demand in recent months, De Beers said.
According to De Beers, interviews with independent jewellers around the US revealed that the rate of couples getting engaged has increased compared with the period when Covid-19 first had an impact in the US in the spring.
“In addition, despite challenging economic times, consumers were spending more than ever on diamond engagement rings – often upgrading in colour, cut and clarity, rather than size. Several jewellers speculated that with consumers spending less on elaborate weddings and/or honeymoons in the current environment, they had more to spend on choosing the perfect ring,” said De Beers.
According to De Beers, a national survey of 360 US women in serious relationships, undertaken in late October in collaboration with engagement and wedding website, The Knot. This survey is said to have found that the majority of respondents (54%) were thinking more about their engagement ring than the wedding itself (32%) or the honeymoon (15%), supporting jewellers’ hypothesis that engagement ring sales were benefiting from reduced wedding and travel budgets in light of Covid-19 restrictions.
When it came to researching engagement rings, online was by far the predominant channel for gaining ideas/inspiration at 86% of consumers surveyed, with 85% saying they had saved examples of styles they liked, according to De Beers. According to the survey, only a uarter of respondents said they had looked in-store at a physical location for design inspiration.
“For many couples, the pandemic has brought them even closer together, in some instances speeding up the path to engagement after forming a deeper connection while experiencing lockdown and its associated ups and downs as a partnership. Engagement rings are taking on even greater symbolism in this environment, with retailers reporting couples are prepared to invest more than usual, particularly due to budget reductions in other areas,” De Beers CEO Cleaver said.
According to De Beers Group, its Diamond Insight Flash Report series is focused on understanding the US consumer perspective in light of Covid-19 and monitoring how it evolves as the crisis evolves. Also, the company said, it is augmenting its existing research programme with additional consumer, retailer and supply chain touch-basis to understand the pain points and the opportunities for stakeholders across the diamond pipeline.
Demand for diamonds is as hard and resilient as the precious stone itself. De Beers pocketed US$ 450 million in its recently held ninth rough diamond sales cycle, and the company says it is more flexible approach to rough diamond sales during the ninth sales cycle of 2020, with the Sight event extended beyond its normal week-long duration.
“Steady demand for De Beers Group’s rough diamonds continued in the ninth sales cycle of the year, reflecting stable consumer demand for diamond jewellery at the retail level in the US and China, and expectations for reasonable demand to continue throughout the holiday season. However, the resurgence of Covid-19 infections in several consumer markets presents ongoing risks,” said De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver recently.
High expectations are on diamonds being a sentimental gift for holiday season or as the most fetished gift. However the ninth cycle was lower than the eighth which registered US$ 467 million. For the last year period which corresponds with the current one, De Beers managed to raise US$ 400.